India has the potential to become a global chemical manufacturing hub if the government and domestic players rise up to the challenge.
With projections hitting the US$ 200 billion-mark by 2020, the Indian chemical industry is standing at a very critical juncture, where immense growth opportunities coupled with intense competition are acting as major drivers behind the dynamic growth being witnessed in certain segments.
National Chemical Policy
With an aim to gauge the competitive edge of all the segments and ensure integrated and overall long-term growth of the Indian chemical industry, the Planning Commission has set up an 18-member task force/ working group led by Arun Maira – Member of the Planning Commission of India. This Working Group on Chemicals and Petrochemicals is responsible for submission of recommendations to formulate the National Chemical Policy (NCP). When PROCESS India contacted Mr Maira’s office — although not much detail could be gathered — it was revealed that the NCP is expected to be released by middle of 2011.
Ensuring integrated growth
According to HS Karangle – Director General, Indian Chemical Council (ICC), the Indian chemical industry is diverse having several sub-sectors such as organic and inorganic chemicals, pharmaceuticals, petrochemicals, agrochemicals, chlor-alkali, dyestuffs, intermediates and paints, among others. Till date, many policies have been formed, most of which have focussed on a particular segment. For example, pharma and petrochemical policies are already in place. There is a need for a comprehensive policy focussing on each segment of the domestic chemical industry.
The unique properties of each segment within the domestic chemical industry call for separate analysis to understand their applications and competitive edge in a better manner. Therefore, five sectoral sub-groups — Sub Group on Organic Chemicals, Sub Group on Chlor-Alkali & Inorganic Chemicals, Sub Group on Dyestuffs & Dye Intermediates, Sub Group on Pesticides and Agrochemicals and Sub Group on Alcohol-based industry — have been constituted to review the status of each sub-segment. In fact, recommendations have already started pouring in. Two meetings have been held by the Sub Group on Chlor-Alkali & Inorganic Chemicals in order to submit recommendations for the dye and pigments sector.
Mr Karangle is of the view that with the formulation of the NCP, government initiatives will get a concrete shape. It will be easier to translate meaningful initiatives into concrete policies, which often become misnomer in case of absence of such policies. He also stated that the NCP will hold several benefits for emerging segments within the domestic chemical industry like the specialty chemicals segment.